The Rise of Respectable Society: Social History of Victorian Britain, 1830-1900 (The Fontana social history of Britain since 1700)

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9780006861577: The Rise of Respectable Society: Social History of Victorian Britain, 1830-1900 (The Fontana social history of Britain since 1700)

One of England's grand masters of history provides a clear and persuasive interpretation of the creation of "respectable society" in Victorian Britain. Integrating a vast amount of research previously hidden in obscure or academic journals, he covers not only the economy, social structure, and patterns of authority, but also marriage and the family, childhood, homes and houses, work and play.By 1900 the structure of British society had become more orderly and well-defined than it had been in the 1830s and 1840s, but the result, Thompson shows, was fragmentation into a multiplicity of sections or classes with differing standards and notions of respectability. Each group operated its own social controls, based on what it considered acceptable or unacceptable conduct. This "internalized and diversified" respectability was not the cohesive force its middle-class and evangelical proponents had envisioned. The Victorian experience thus bequeathed structural problems, identity problems, and authority problems to the twentieth century, with which Britain is grappling.

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Review:

In both content and style ŬThompson¨ sets a high standard for his fellow authors to follow...Packed with interesting and challenging examples and reflections...ŬThompson has¨ fitted recent research into an impressive framework that will long remain a starting point for future discussion. -- Neville Thompson "History"

impressive framework that will long remain a starting point for future discussion.

ré sumé , and will be invaluable to the student and of much interest to what used to be called the intelligent lay reader.

of the relevant historical literature...With its generous scope and its well-considered selection of details, the rewards of...[an] energetic perusal of "The Rise of Respectable Society" can be great.

In both content and style [Thompson] sets a high standard for his fellow authors to follow...Packed with interesting and challenging examples and reflections...[Thompson has] fitted recent research into an impressive framework that will long remain a starting point for future discussion.--Neville Thompson "History "

This is a major study of Victorian society by one of our leading historians, the product of immensely wide reading and mature consideration. It offers a synthesis of the mass of new research material which has appeared since G. M. Young's "Portrait of an Age" and G. D. H. Cole's "The Common People" half a century ago...Each chapter is an excellent, authoritative and elegant resume, and will be invaluable to the student and of much interest to what used to be called the intelligent lay reader.--John Burnett "Times Literary Supplement ""

Anyone with more than a passing interest in nineteenth-century Britain should be grateful for "The Rise of Respectable Society."..[It is] culled from a broad and scrupulous reading of the relevant historical literature...With its generous scope and its well-considered selection of details, the rewards of...[an] energetic perusal of "The Rise of Respectable Society" can be great.--Harriet Ritvo "New York Times "

From the Back Cover:

In the fifty years since the appearance of G. M: Young's brilliant survey, 'Victorian England: Portrait of an Age', a mass of new research from new perspectives has entirely changed the landscape of the Victorian era. ' The Rise of Respectable Society' offers a new map of this territory as revealed be close empirical studies of marriage, the family, domestic life, work, leisure and entertainment. In doing so it rescues the middle and working classes from the rigidity of the class stereotypes by which they have been frequently portrayed. But it also argues that the diversity of cultures within those classes was in fact the essence of Victorian society, and that as each class developed its notions of self-respect, so it adhered ever more closely to the classes above and below it, thus avoiding the revolutionary fractures which appeared in many other European countries during this period.

For the quality of its research and the clarity of its synthesis, 'The Rise of Respectable Society' will gain a reputation as an outstanding reinterpretation of the Victorian period.

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